Thursday, January 28, 2010 many variables

Yesterday, the weather broke and I decided to take advantage of the warm[er] temps and get in some practice. The club was short of trappers, so I joined a couple of guys that had a cart and were shooting the course[one of then take an occasional lesson from me]. They mentioned that the targets on station #6 have been giving them fits, and they would like to see me shoot them [no pressure here!].

Well, it turned out to be a true pair- first bird was fast 90mm crosser[edgy] @ about 30-35 yards, and the second bird that you engaged was a much slower curling downhill quartering bird[showing plenty of dome] at about 30 yards. Menu called for 4 pairs. Ok, this pair should have your full attention, but lets not freak out.....we should be able to count on the second bird of the pair, every time, as long as we keep our wits about us.....and we should get our fair share of the harder bird. I managed 7 out of 8, dropping the first bird of the 3 pair- hey, it January OK?

So, my new squadmates are grumbling about being old, and not as fast as they used to be.....about how when they were my age, they could move that fast, and about how they can't see them well enough. OK, so guys what part of the clay are you looking at? I get a half hearted answer about seeing the leading edge. REALLY? Let's look at it about how the sun, which is behind the target...see how it lights up the back corners of the bird? Yeah, yeah we see that now, they now trying the target again, they begin to hit it with at least with some regularity.

But they are still struggling.....they are inconsistent.....they are engaging the targets at various places in the flight....sometimes very late, costing them the precious time they need to ensure kills on the second, easier bird. So, I'm hearing things like "........ just can't see the bird as fast as you do Will", and "....I'm not sure where to break it...". So I ask where they are seeing the bird best, and where they are seeing it first?

With regard to where they see it best, I get all kinds of answers about where they should kill the bird , not where they can focus on the bird the best. We should do everything we can to kill the bird where we can focus on the bird the best. Ok, now that is about where you see the bird first? I get all kinds of answers, mostly about not seeing it well until later in its flight......that is fine, because that is where we are going to kill it.....but what I want now is where do you see the flash of the clay FIRST. That is where you need to have your eyes, in soft focus, when you call for the target. Get your hands moving when you first see the flash, giving yourself the maximum time to kill the bird.

Suddenly, the shot didn't seem so fast.....the guys realized that they had more time than they realized. Because they were looking for the bird earlier, they were seeing it earlier. It was something they had to work at, but they could do it. They weren't as old as they thought.

And mainly they realized that they were focused on the wrong problems, the wrong variables in the shot. It really comes back to basics....things they already knew. But it is sooooo easy to come the conclusion that there must be some other problem than me, the shooter, not doing the work to apply the basics.

Guys and Gals, its all basics. Good shooting is generally just doing a good job of applying the basics. This time of year is a good time to make sure you have your basic shooting squared away.

I think that I'm going back to the range today to make sure of that for myself.



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